Not a thing!
(Joke). Everyone can do something against hate speech. Anyone who can write can fight back. Everyone can report posts or comments, rectify false statements or stand up against inhumane hate comments in your own environment. You’ve just got to do it. And if nothing good comes to mind there are lots of great counter attacks on our site under Counter Speech like memes, slogans, videos, and facts, which you can download quickly and use.
One thing is clear though; everyone is responsible for the atmosphere of their own Facebook page, Instagram profile or website. But when is the time to intervene? Irony and side jabs of course are not illegal! And no one wants to scare of their friends without reason. It can sometimes be difficult to assess when a comment is meant as hate speech and not just a stupid remark. That feeling is very individual and in the end everyone has to decide for themselves what goes too far and what doesn’t. But also if someone has made a mistake in their tone, no one should be forced to feel they should accept it quietly…
In most forums or online communities there are clear conversation rules. A good example of these are Pinterest’s rules.
If social media platforms don’t have their own rules you can set some up yourself. Here are some examples of how you can avoid hate comments.
How can you report posts or entries?
It’s really not that complicated to report content on social media or online platforms any more if they are in breach of the rules or laws.
There are more opportunities to report hate speech here on The list of Anti Defamation League.
How can you make a complaint against hate comments?
To file a complaint you can turn to the police or public prosecutor’s office in the federal state that you live in. The contacts for the State Police Public Authorities and Internet Watch are listed according to each state at www.polizei.de.
Filing a complaint is also possible online, however not in all states.
Anyone who files a complaint and is not directly affected will usually not be involved any further in proceedings, but the police will still investigate further. When you file a complaint it can be that you hit misunderstanding or ignorance. Hate speech is discussed within the police, but for many the subject is still very much new territory.
However, the complaints are always followed up. A complaint of a threat can absolutely qualify for action, but of course that does not automatically mean that it will come to a criminal conviction. If the guilty party, for example, says that they didn’t mean to do it – or something similar – it can lead to an acquittal. However, this should never keep someone from filing a complaint. Incitement to hatred, abuse and threats are all definitely criminal offences in Germany.
Anyone who is unsure whether a comment falls under the law for youth protection can turn to jugendschutz.net. There you can report incidents around the subject of political extremism, violence or cyber-mobbing. The team there goes over the content and puts further steps into motion depending on their results.